Monday, December 08, 2008

Jesus and nonviolence - pt. 2

Chapters 3 & 4 of Walter Wink's 'Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way' were fairly short. In chapter three he juxtaposes Jesus' teachings with Saul Alinsky's principles for nonviolent community action, which he developed in his attempts to organize American workers and minority communities. I originally listed Alinsky's thirteen principles, but have removed them because they're not really the point.

I just have one quote from chapter 3. On p. 45-6:
Jesus was not content merely to empower the powerless... and here his teachings fundamentally transcend Alinsky's. Jesus' sayings about nonretaliation are of one piece with his challenge to love our enemies. Here it is enough to remark that Jesus did not advocate nonviolence merely as a technique for outwitting the enemy, but as a just means of opposing the enemy in such a way as to hold open the possibility of the enemy's becoming just as well. Both sides must win. We are summoned to pray for our enemies' transformation, and to respond to ill-treatment with a love that not only is godly but also, I am convinced, can only be found in God.

In chapter 4 he compares the differences in some examples of violent and non-violent takeovers. However, he points out that it is much more than that. He says "...Jesus' Third Way is not a perfectionistic avoidance of violence but a creative struggle to restore the humanity of all parties in a dispute..." A rather key point to it all, I say.

The only thing I underlined in ch. 4 was:
I do not believe that the churches can adequately atone for their past inaction simply by baptizing revolutionary violence under the pretext of just war theory. No war today could be called just, given the inevitable level of casualties and atrocities.

This sent me to wondering just how an evangelical Christian can feel any kind of war (or killing) can be justified. If we kill a non-believer, are we not damning them to hell (and how is that not worse than the killing of an innocent unborn child covered by the grace of God?)? But that's not what this section was about. It is simply more about how violence is not the best way to bring about change. The next chapter (ch. 5) will likely be pretty lengthy, so I'll stop with this.

Peace out; and in.